- Title: U.N. Burundi inquiry identifies crimes against humanity suspects
- Date: 27th September 2016
- Summary: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND (SEPTEMBER 27, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF UNITED NATIONS BUILDING
- Embargoed: 12th October 2016 18:41
- Keywords: Burundi United Nations Pierre Nkurunziza Human Rights Council
- Location: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND/ BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI
- City: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND/ BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI
- Country: Switzerland
- Topics: Government/Politics,United Nations
- Reuters ID: LVA00151CGB47
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:U.N. investigators looking into the alleged torture and murder of government opponents in Burundi have drawn up a list of suspects who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, they said on Tuesday (September 27).
The U.N. has verified 564 executions in the central African nation since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza sparked protests by saying he would seek a third term, the investigators said, calling that "clearly a conservative estimate".
The Burundi government called the report, by the U.N. Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB), biased and politically motivated and denied all its allegations.
The investigators, who presented their report to the U.N.'s Human Rights Council in Geneva, said they had received evidence of rapes, disappearances, mass arrests as well as torture and murder, and that there were probably many thousands of victims.
"The State Security Apparatus, the National Police of Burundi (PNB), the intelligence service (SNR) and the National Defence Force (FDN) and the youth group of the ruling party (the Imbonerakure) were responsible for serious violations of human rights," Independent expert on Burundi to the Human Rights Council Maya Sahli Fadel said.
UNIIB said a former senior army officer told investigators of the existence of lists of people to be eliminated.
Witnesses named 12 senior members of the security forces - who report directly to the heart of government - responsible for disappearances. Some of the people who said they had been tortured reported being held in secret jails including at the homes of the president and a government minister.
The government denied the existence of such death-lists.
"The government of Burundi would like to refute not only gratuitous, serious allegations in this experts' report, but especially denounce the unprofessional methods applied in the collection of information. Burundi's government considers it unacceptable that a United Nations report is written solely on the basis of anonymous testimony, a content that experts don't dare to assume due to a lack of tangible evidence," Burundi Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender Martin Nivyabandi told the council session.
According to the UNIIB report, the bodies of some people who were summarily executed were transported across the Ruzizi river and buried in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It listed 17 types of torture used by the security forces, ranging from attaching weights to the testicles to forcing a victim to sit on broken glass or to stay next to the dead body of a relative.
Many women fleeing the country were subjected to sexual violence by the members of the youth wing of the ruling party, Imbonerakure, border guards and unidentified men. Women opposed to the president's third term were also subjected to extreme sexual violence, the report said.
Satellite imagery suggested the existence of mass graves, but the government did not respond an offer to investigate the sites, it said.
Burundi has set up three commissions of inquiry to look into human rights allegations, but the report accused the government of "blatantly failing" to investigate.
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